Thursday, December 11, 2014

why would that even be an option?!

it's been forever. let's just chalk it up to a long year.

i've been watching a long line of English shows- Sherlock, Marple, Rosemary and Thyme, Luther… drama and crime. often quaint, always with an english accent.

so I'm watching and something happens. it's devastating. and i just couldn't stop thinking about it. i gave Sterling a bath. i put him to bed, and i just kept thinking about it.

<< it should be noted that I was kind of a sap before I had Sterling. I cried during campbell's soup commercials. And now that he's here, everything seems so very much more real. and dear. and fleeting. so yeah, it COULD be said, that i get a tiny little bit teary eyed a little bit more. i'm also paranoid. i get that from my dad. and i'm always quick to jump to the absolute worst possibility. i can admit this. >>

mark is out of town.  obviously.
i look at my phone and realize i've missed two calls from him. 28 minutes ago.

i call.
i text.
i call again and i leave a message

i make a cup of tea.
he's gone to bed
he's had a long day
i check the clock- it's 9pm
9pm? he can't be asleep. 
maybe he's taking a shower. or a bath. 
why wouldn't he answer at 9pm?
should i call the hotel?
wait, i don't know where he is staying.
where is he?
i call again.
at this point i start to worry outright.
what if something has happened to him? 

<<i should note this progression took over an hour. i am not entirely crazy and yes, there have been several unfortunate experiences in my lifetime that have justified the sort of thinking that follows next, and NO this is not normal behavior from me>>

then i realize- i can track his iPhone!!!! there is an app for this!!!!!

i can track his iPhone and it'll tell me where he is and then i won't worry and i'll know what hotel he's at, and if i'm worried i can call. it is all ok. i'm just overreacting because i watched this show. relief!

so i track his iPhone.
and see this.

a cemetery?!??
what the hell is he doing in a cemtery??

i check the location on satellite. it's by an apartment complex. there are no hotels nearby.
at which point, i jump to the logical conclusion
he's been robbed. 
or worse! 
thieves have taken his phone to these skeeving apartments
those bastards

and then--
this is evidence of a crime!

i notice that word at the bottom "action"
it gleamed like a light in the night. i clicked it (because clearly i'm past the point of no return)
there are three options-  "play sound" "lost mode" and "erase iPhone"

<<i'm pretty certain Apple didn't MEAN to give your paranoid crime show watching wife the power to wipe your iPhone from afar. but really, WHY IS THAT EVEN AN OPTION?>>

i consider carefully.
i played a sound.
(three times to make a point)

omg! it's him. or them? someone is calling me. 

"What did you do to my phone?!" -- Mark (sounding a little accusatory)

"What are you doing in a cemetery!?"(he's clearly not robbed, so now i'm annoyed. why is he in a cemetery?)

"why would i be in a cemetery? I'm in a hotel! I was asleep and then this weird noise started in the room and freaked me out and i hunted it down and it was my phone, which was on silent. with lots of missed calls from you. "

I text him the photo above. At which point, he starts LAUGHING.
"You thought i was in the cemetery?"

"Robbed. clearly. possibly dead. I was going to wipe your phone."

"YOU WERE WHAT! (and then he stopped). I love you Moses. But you're an idiot"

Big thanks to the Track my iPhone app.
He was across the highway

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

8 ½ months. the terror

We toured the hospital. Attended a 6 hour birthing class. And a two hour breast feeding class. We put the nursery together. Filled the drawers.
Almost 34 weeks. 5-7 to go.
All this nesting is supposed to calm me. Prepare me for what's to come.

This is the exact moment that I have a complete breakdown. I'm scared shitless. Absolutely petrified. Watching four births did not make me feel more comfortable. I started hyperventilating.

Three days later, I'm still hyperventilating. Learning to recognize the stages of a 12-18 hour tour through various levels of agony?  Not helpful. I'm all too aware that this entire process will cumulate with me shitting myself while a room full of complete strangers stare as my naked nether regions are literally ripped or cut apart in a bloody display.
It's a scene right out of an old english operating theatre.

It's a modern day horror movie. This is what should be taught in high school. Make kids watch a vaginal delivery and I guarantee teen pregnancies would be down.

You'd think after 6000 years someone would have figured out how to make this better. You've read Brave New World? Remember the incubators? Where the hell are the incubators? Where are the technological advances to this process? Why I am still carrying a child to term just like cave women did?

There's no good way out. Let's drop the cloak and dagger act and examine the facts.
Vaginal delivery? You're torn apart naturally OR you're cut apart and THEN (to add insult to injury) the skin of your most delicate parts, your vagina is stretched to a breaking point jokingly referred to as the ring of fire. You can't even use toilet paper for days after because you're nursing a bloody gaping wound.
C-section? Doctor takes a scalpel to your stomach, slices away- let's not even talk about the recovery.
Epidural? You're not even allowed to get an epidural until you're already halfway dilated and are at your agony threshold. Localized pain killers? Extremely frowned upon because of the transfer to the baby, "Nice job mom, took care of yourself and the baby right up until the delivery when you took a load of drugs."
We haven't even touched on the possible complications that can arise just by starting the labor process. They range from bad to tragic for me and the baby. That's truly the stuff of nightmares, and has been the subject of my dreams of late.

I've got a lot of strong opinions right now. They stem from the fact that I've got a basketball strapped to my stomach. I can't take it off and courtesy of the enlightening courses I'm taking, I feel like I'm staring down the barrel of a loaded gun.

So spare me the speech about the "beautiful natural process." And don't make the assumption that me hating pregnancy and the very idea of delivery means I'll hate my child. That's a dumb assumption that's far too prevalent. That's akin to assuming that you'll hate or wreck your new car because you hate having to make the payments. Just because I wanted a child does not mean I wanted to have my body distorted beyond recognition and endure 10 months of discomfort, sickness, pain, fatigue, sleep loss, etc.

In fact, let's talk about that "beautiful natural process."Let's talk about the glowing mother and the special bond developed between mother and child. The beautiful bump.
I'm not glowing. Like so many other women, I'm a recovered anorexic who finally found peace with herself through exercise and strength. I've watched several years worth of hard worn victories over my body slip away in a matter of months as I lose the capability to run, workout, even walk without pain. It's a complete loss of self confidence and pride.
And the bond? Here's my experience. Kicks can hurt. These movements aren't gentle or relaxing. My organs are literally being punched and kicked with no protective layer of skin or muscle to shield them, and sometimes the shock and pain is enough to bring me to my knees. It's not really conducive to warm fuzzy feelings.

If you haven't been pregnant, you aren't allowed to judge me for being less than thrilled. You can either sympathize or keep your opinions to yourself. Or risk being punched in the throat.

If you have given birth? Think back on it. Realize that the pain has faded from your memory and that telling me it's not going to be that bad is just BS. Remember the forgotten leg cramps in the night, the painful months as your hips separate and your genital muscles rip and swell, the constant feeling that you're suffocating as you struggle to take a deep breath into your compressed lungs, or the all day sickness and nausea that accompanies you for months at a time.

Lastly, if you were one of the few women who didn't go through agony then realize your experience was a miracle and that telling anyone to expect the same is akin to me telling you that you absolutely WILL be an astronaut in this lifetime. Is it possible? Maybe. But let's be real,  you won't ever be an astronaut. NASA's funding is cut and we aren't planning a lot of space travel right now.

Here's the thing. I'm allowed to be scared. We're not talking about some difficult task here. I'm talking about pain. Outright agony.  I shouldn't be embarrassed or ashamed to say I'm afraid. I shouldn't be judged for feeling this way. I don't want to be coddled. I just want an alternative that's removed from the horror genre. I want some decency.

Monday, November 4, 2013

This Old House- Gascoine Style

there's been a lot going on lately; too much seems to have been shrouded in sadness.

so i'm taking the moment to update you all (and remind myself) of the good things that i shouldn't be overlooking.

i'm not certain how many of you out there are Do It Yourself-er's. i'm also aware that levels of DIY range; while i think nothing of taking a sledge hammer to a wall, or a shower- some people consider repainting their houses to be more trouble than it's worth.
so let me start by saying that when Mark and I consider renovations, we mean renovations. we'll tear it down, to the studs, and build it again. fortunately for our wallets, Mark was licensed as an electrician in Europe, and American laws are a lot more lax. he also apprenticed as a carpenter before he went to university. 
in light of this, i'm not certain how much i really bring to the relationship! but i will say that i've got endurance for the crap jobs- like bagging and removing 30 trash bags of tile, 100 bags of ivy/leaves, a dumpster full of the fragmented remains of a kitchen, etc. i'm unstoppable at finding a bargain, and i've never met someone who is better at drywall. 
anyway- here's a series of before and after shots to capture what we've been up to the last 18 months in Texas. in case you're wondering, the only hired labor was for the installation of the counters in the kitchen.

The Front Entryway- BEFORE
AFTER- paint & wraparound curtain track

Guest bedroom- BEFORE- the room was MUCH darker than it looks- dark brown on ceiling
AFTER - added dog door (we can replace with the real door when we leave), paint, updated lighting

Hallway bathroom BEFORE (it was DARK turquoise, even the ceiling!)          
AFTER-paint, new vanity, lighting, and fixtures (begone vile gold fixtures!)     

Kitchen from dining- BEFORE - taking out the tile hurt the most!
AFTER- new everything    

Kitchen- BEFORE from living room 
Kitchen AFTER          

Kitchen BEFORE from nook
 Kitchen AFTER                            

Upstairs bedroom BEFORE   - with brown ceilings again 
AFTER- paint & too much baby stuff 

Sunken living room- BEFORE   

AFTER- hardwood floors, paint,   
 molding, windows. Also, the living room in the back is now painted as well.

Below is another shot to show off the old green concrete floors


Backyard- BEFORE         

AFTER- ivy removed  from trees & walls,  gate installed, all surfaces pressure washed, trees and branches trimmed all around the house. New pool pump, new filter. 

There's a couple other rooms that have been painted and work on, but they aren't quite finished, so I'll save them for another post.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


grief. it's such an overwhelming emotion. it ranges the gambit; outright heartbreak, fear, anger, guilt. it appears to be the penultimate "bad" emotion.
it's beyond my rational mind. it's primal. it's consuming me.
i'm hoping that writing will help ease the tears. to tell someone how i feel rather than trying to rise above it, to be strong, to put her memory in a box. I need to verbalize this.

we are no longer one girl with two dogs. we lost the ever affectionate Kora Chops this weekend in an accident- a sting from a nasty texan insect.

Kora was my best friend. I know, it's sad. It's lame. She was a dog.
Kora was my companion. My constant companion. She was afraid of abandonment, and had to be physically touching me whenever I was home; resting her head on my knee or foot. She slept curled against my legs every night.
My husband travels often, 3-5 days a week.
I live in Texas; of the five couples we know in the state, the closest live 60 miles away. We do not keep in contact.
I have worked from home for the last three years, I do not attend any outside associations or clubs.

In the last three years, I've spent approximately 18 hours a day with her physically touching me, by my side. She was my saving grace, we walked, played and kept each other company over the years. If I was sad, she licked my tears and would clamber into my lap. When excited, we dashed around the house excited together.  If I was ignoring her, she'd sneeze at me. Over the past five months, she's curled against me and placed her head on my growing belly, seeming to understand the changes that were coming.

Now she's gone. The house seems so quiet. There is no jingle from her collar, no claws against the floor. No snuffing or signs of her tearing around the house. It feels like a nightmare. Like I'm sleep walking through a haze of pain and confusion.
I look around constantly for her. I see her toys, food bowls, dog beds; I expect her to be there. Out of instinct I reach for her. I find myself sitting, listening intently, not even realizing that I'm listening for her. I look for her in the windows when I'm outside. I start in the night without her familiar weight against my leg. When I return home, I open the garage door slowly so as not to hit her, before I realize she's not there waiting for my return.

I feel hollow. I feel empty. I feel lost. I do not know how to fill my days now. I do not know how to cope when Mark is away and the house is silent. I do not know how long I can continue in Texas, so far removed from everyone. I am heartbroken.

I feel angry. I feel as though I've been robbed. This wasn't supposed to happen.  She had fully recovered from such a horrible illness, she was so strong. I can't comprehend this to be truth.

I fear. I worry about Hercules, who has been hiding outside since this happened, that he will also be stung. I fear the unknown, the unexpected, the worst possible outcome. I'm terrified at the thought of Mark away from me and what could happen to him. I worry drastically over the baby in my stomach- that I will be unable to protect him from similar fates.

I feel so guilty. If only I had fed her immediately when I woke up instead of letting her run outside. If only we'd gone for a walk around the block that morning. If only I'd laid in bed five minutes longer. If only I hadn't let the pet sitters board her. If only we hadn't gone on vacation weeks ago. The butterfly effect-if only I hadn't lost her.

This is my grief. I cannot control it. The waves continue to wash over me. Hopefully the tides will subside in time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

they are liars

the evening before our big two week vacation- we discovered i'm pregnant! 

exactly three minutes of big eyes and speechless excitement were immediately followed by outright terror and questions.
-will a 9 hour flight be a problem?
-when do we need to go to the dr?
-how far along am i?
-do i need to stop taking my tumor medicine?

and then the realizations came crashing down
-not a single drink in the pubs!
-how will we keep the secret from family?
-we have NO IDEA what the do's and don't are

so we did what any couple who just spent a fortune on their one vacation of the year would do.
we got on the plane and headed to England.

England. land of un-pasteurized cheeses, uncured meats, bizarre locally caught fish, and local favorites like black pudding. likewise, we left a climate of 90 degrees for one around 30 degrees.  
have i mentioned we knew nothing at this point? 

i don't know what your experience with pregnancy is- but here's two tips in case you are considering it.
1- EVERYONE feels obligated to give you advice. DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM.

that said- all of our extremely limited knowledge during this time period was gleaned during our limited moments to connect to the internet. 
can you imagine where this is going?

Spotting? yeah. that happens. according to actual doctor's, it's even normal. 
according to various internet diagnosis'- including one from the National Health Service- i was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy of twins and needed to go to the doctor IMMEDIATELY.

Serious cold due to the much lowered immune system and drastically different environment? 
Makes sense. In America, you take some cold medicine, anything from the tylenol line, problem solved. But in England? Slightly different story.
imagine if you will....
My throat is swollen and raw due to mucus sliding down it, i can't stop blowing my nose. I'm a picture of the best kind of miserable. We ask a clerk in the pharmacy what I can take for a cold while pregnant. 
He directs me to paracetamol.
What? that's for fever and mild aches.
I'm SICK. I explain I need something for the cold and head towards the "cold/flu" section.
Across the shop. 
I can't even describe the looks i got, and the comments regarding the Starbucks cup in my hand. 

the "english" internet sites i had access to confirmed the clerks belief that no medicines were safe and left me terrified.  (interesting fact, that other countries have their country id on their sites, but not the US. like .uk for England, and .de for germany)
i took nothing. 
instead, i had a nasty cold for the entire vacation. 
i suffered seven mile walks through fields and pastures in the rain, touring castles and the freezing cold tunnels in the white cliffs of dover, countless hours with friends and family NOT drinking in pubs, and was vaguely miserable whenever in between bouts of morning sickness.

fortunately i finally returned to America and was assured that i could treat the cold. and i did. and i stopped being quite so miserable.
damn you clerk and english websites! Damn you! You are liars!

If there's one thing i've learned so far, it's that those women who say that pregnancy is a wonderful experience, that they loved it, that they felt such a connection with their baby-

they are also liars.
or possibly just forgetful. perhaps repressing the memories? 

Monday, June 10, 2013

evicting the tuna

I've spent the last 6 months evicting a tuna.
Let me tell you, that little sucker is one big pain in the ass. Add in the fact that most laws are in favor of the tenant, and well, it's a miracle I've made any progress.

As you might have realized, the tuna is an unwelcome guest. It first made it's appearance about 9 months ago. It was the typical rowdy annoying houseguest that felt the need to get too up close and too personal while systematically destroying everything it came in contact with.

How can a tuna be this disruptive you might ask?

It's simple really, because the tuna is really a tumor, it's just that Mark's accent makes it sound like a tuna. Which makes it more bearable considering it's located in my brain. At the base of my pituitary gland. It's not cancerous. I repeat. It's not cancerous. It's treatable. It's BEING treated. But goddamn is it a disruptive son of a bitch.

And then there's Google. Google is just about the worst thing in the world sometimes.
The tuna has a real name. It's very long and I can't spell it. When the doctor told me the name, I committed the first 18 letters to memory and figured I'd be able to find it online later. While this may seem a rookie mistake to those in the medical know, I was unaware of my gaff.

What I didn't count on? Another disease that is a side effect of full blown AIDS sharing the same first 18 letters as my condition. Google, in it's infinite wisdom, decided this must be my search topic and sent me there.
Which led me to believe, obviously, that I also had AIDS. I actually fainted at first. Why, I kept wondering, why would they only tell me I had a brain tumor? Was it some sort of law that you had to tell people in person? Fortunately, just before I lost the will to live, my iPhone managed to autocomplete the CORRECT syndrome.

SUCH a relief. I mean, kind of. I still had a brain tuna. But I didn't have AIDS anymore. All in all, that was both a good day and a bad day.

For the record-
I really thought it was Texas. I did. I believed it with my whole heart, which is likely the most telling testament about how deeply I loathe this part of the country!
I thought the humidity, hideous skin reactions, terrible allergies, the blinding headaches, the weird weight gains, the absolutely crazy mood swings, the constant dehydration (dehydrated??? me?? after a decade in the desert i was dehydrated HERE? in a swamp???) i thought it was all me adjusting to this swamp.

Nope, it was just the tuna.
And a thyroid problem (courtesy of the tuna)
I haven't a clue what that means. The thyroid thing. The tuna bit was obvious. I mean, once I stopped blaming Texas.

Monday, March 4, 2013

aka: the saga of Harry

aka: the cat who lived.

"Oh you have cats? I thought my eyes were itching a little," stated our host last night.
Mark nods while I stammer, "No. Not really. Well kind of. It's a yard cat."
"Sarah tried to kill it" Mark states to Eric.
Great. Now it's my turn to explain.

Mark moved here fourteen months ago. He left behind nearly all of his possessions. But more importantly, he left his cat. A pure black shorted haired cat who acts like a dog. Named Barney.
Mark loves that cat.  Kora and Hercules simply can't compete (though they don't lack for trying).

On a dark and stormy night two weeks ago, the abandoned cat pack outside (don't ask) grew in rank by one. No longer a kitten. Not quite a full grown cat.
A pure black short haired cat. A Barney kitten.

It presented itself on the front steps and proceeded to yawol at the top of its lungs. I felt sorry for it, but more distressed as Hercules and Kora tried to launch themselves through the floor to ceiling windows by the door. *Kora once jumped through a 9' wide by 53" window. It was incredibly expensive and I've been wary ever since.

Mark's heart melted immediately. He was out, chasing the Barney kitten with warm milk and turkey.
"Can we keep it?" he asked, "It's horrible outside. Don't make me leave it there."

I'm not going to revisit, but the next SEVERAL conversations about what I started lovingly referring to as "that damn cat" painted me firmly into the evil stepmother of animals category.

Seven days ago. Compromise. The garage door is raised about 6". The cat comes in and is swaddled in a king size blanket in the corner. It's given food and water. It stays the night.

Morning. I check on the cat. It yawols unrelentingly at me. Seriously, it won't shut up and it's got food and water and it's buried in the back of the garage. My head hurts and it's freezing in the garage. Fine I figure. But i'm closing the garage. No use everyone freezing. I hit the button.

At which point, the unthinkable happens. With literal catlike reflexes the cat bounds towards the lowering door. It was like watching some terrible tennis match, my head turned just in time to see two legs and a tail crushed under the door and wriggling.


Frantically I'm hitting the button, which first squished it again and then raised the door. At which point it's off like a cat out of hell and I, in pj's and no socks in 30 degree rainy weather, I am after it. I'm positive I've broken it's back, it's positive I tried to kill it. It's 7am. For the record, the neighbors think I'm nuts.
I lose it in the bushes.
I reflect.

Mark is going to KILL me.
He loves it. Already it's more loved than myself, and on my first true interaction with it, I've maimed and possibly killed it, and definitely lost it.

"You did this on purpose! You knew I loved it! You're a sadist, a Hilter of kittens, a Kitler!" -he screamed at me while rushing past to search for his wounded kitten.

Fast forward to me, tears streaming, on the bridge. At which point, the cat prances out from under the bridge. I blink at it. It yawls loudly at me. It crawls in my lap and glares at me.
We have, at this early stage already defined our relationship.

I begin to squeeze it (gently dammit! looking for damaged organs)
It bites me. I glare at it.

This appears to be as good as it gets.

*For the record, the cat is fine. It lived through two solid days of me picking it up every five minutes to check for damage- which resulted in me getting bitten a few more times. Apparently, cats don't like being poked.  I've named it Harry, the cat who lived.